In one’s never ending quest to getting published, one learns to seek any positive signs in the many rejections that pour into the mailbox. When I first started submitting to agents, I had no idea what I was starting. I wasn’t even sure how to write a request for representation. So obviously I scoured the internet for templates and advice on how to format my request. I thought there must be some common format that would catch the eye of some agent.

No, there is no magic formula – or at least I haven’t found it yet. Most of the rejections I received were form rejections. Every now and then I would receive one where someone took the time to sign. That was like gold. I would stare at the signature and think, “Wow! They must have liked it.” That motivation faded fast.

Having given up on the whole process, I received an early Christmas present – a rejection of course. This one was different though. In this one, the editor took the time to respond with a personalized rejection. This leads me to believe that my letter must be getting closer to catching some interest. Here is the response I received:

“Thank you for giving Candlemark & Gleam the opportunity to consider your manuscript, Conduit. We’ve looked at your manuscript sample carefully and we appreciate its many merits, but unfortunately, we’re going to have to pass on publishing it. You may wish to consider adapting your novel as a screenplay; from the jump-cut pacing and subject matter, it seems as though it might make a better fit for a visual production than for print publication.

We wish you the best in placing it elsewhere, and we hope you’ll try us again in the future with another of your efforts.”

Why am I happy about this? For newbie authors out there like me, it helps to make a game of the rejections and see how many ways one can twist a rejection into a positive message.

1) It shows that my story was actually reviewed.

I don’t know how many times I’ve received some sort of rejection explaining how my story was reviewed in great detail but wonder in the back of my mind if it was even looked at. Where the editor took the time to provide some advice shows to me that my book was in fact read.

2) My story isn’t garbage

OK, I’m making a leap here, I know. It’s that little guy in my back of my head building the wall to soften sting of the rejection. But they must have liked it right? If they took the time to respond with advice and encourage future submissions there must have been something in there they liked. Plus, that voice in my head keeps telling me so and he never lies.

3) It had “many merits”!

Sure, it’s likely part of the standard form rejection. But you gotta pick the positive pieces out of the rejections and ignore the negative pieces or you get depressed fast.

4) My story may be a good candidate for a visual production

That sounds really cool to me. I’m not sure if I should be sad about it though since translating my story to a screenplay is a daunting task. Not only do I not have any clue about screenplays, I really believe my story to be a good novel as well. But it’s nice to know that someone thought it would make a good visual production. So I’ll look at it that way instead.

5) They would like to see more of my work

Well, who wouldn’t get a boost from that? That little voice behind the wall is talking again and telling me they don’t include that line in the form rejection letter!

In all honesty, this letter did make me happy and has given me a little more hope in getting my story published. I will keep trying and when I’m on my last leg once again, another rejection will come in that offers some words of encouragement. It will take more then a signature now though.